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San Diego Symphony's 'Hearing the Future' Festival Marks Debut of Rafael Payare

A 2018 photo of Rafael Payare the new music director of the San Diego Symphony.
Courtesy of San Diego Symphony
A 2018 photo of Rafael Payare the new music director of the San Diego Symphony.

Curated by MacArthur recipient Matthew Aucoin, the event showcases music, dance, visual arts and theater

San Diego Symphony's 'Hearing the Future' Festival Marks Debut of Rafael Payare
GUEST: Martha Gilmer, CEO, San Diego Symphony Subscribe to the Midday Edition podcast on iTunes, Google Play or your favorite podcatcher.

Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer spoke with KPBS as arts editor Nina. This week at the symphony Garin started by asking about this use hearing the future festival in 2019 the San Diego Symphony along with 13 other institutions is presenting a festival called Hearing the future which is somewhat of a provocative title and it was really intended to I as I like to think about it to kind of examine the blank canvas the blank manuscript page before the notes are put on and what is genius. What is creativity and looking at it through that lens a wide range of music from jazz to classical to chamber music through also to young playwrights and dancers. Because it has to start somewhere hearing the future also means that many composers today or writers today are. Reflecting to us their view of this fast paced changing world and reflecting things that really matter to them. And so it really is about how we look forward from our present tense and what is the future going to sound like. From the title. You would think that you're really focusing on new music but that's not the case right. You're also kind of looking back as well it's looking back at a moment and then looking forward. So 1830 three twenty five year old composers writing in the same year. Mendelssohn Liszt and Berlioz all breaking the rules. And then you fast forward to 20 18 and look at compositions from this time through a different lens because we don't know how those composers or writers are going to be viewed from the future but we can look at what they're trying to say today. And so every January now for the past four years you've had this. Festival. How important has it become to the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. I think this festival is an important moment in the year for the San Diego Symphony because it allows us to collaborate deeply with other institutions and it allows us to welcome a variety of audiences in 11 locations. This festival during the course of three weeks. So it really is an opportunity to kind of spread out and reach people where they are. And I think that's one of the most exciting parts of the festival also because we can have multiple performances in a day and you can really sample this festival throughout three weeks and immerse yourself in. For me I like to think of myself as a curious person but I know our audiences are really hungry for that kind of context and content. And so we really try to focus on this these various works that have commonality and also very different. Can you tell us some highlights that maybe you're particularly excited about. There are some moments that I'm particularly looking forward to. Of course the first of those moments is that we are welcoming back to San Diego our music director designate Rafael Priore in his first performance since being named music director. So there's an electricity about that and I know the musicians who've been on holiday for a couple of weeks have really been working hard and really excited about two different programs in four days. So that is a highlight. Without question Matt a coin is the curator of this festival and Matt is a tremendously talented individual who is a poet a writer about music. He's composing operas. He conducts he performs on the piano and he does it all really really well. He's so talented and he's so imaginative and Matt has put together a program called MEPs playlist in which he has a series of small pieces short pieces from a range of 300 years that he will perform without interruption. So it's as if you had your headsets on and you were just playing a playlist that you'd created. In this case Mat's created of things he wants to tell you how much it may mean to him. So I see there's a lot of interesting. Shows coming up but the one in particular that I was wondering about was so called. Were you there. Can you explain what that is. So it's a very special concert as part of the festival. DeVone Tynes has created a theatrical setting entitled Were you there and it really features African American spirituals. But through his. Creation of this assisted by Maddah Coyne it also allows us to reflect on these beautiful songs as a tribute to black lives that have been lost to race racial injustice and so I think. That evening is one of those moments where an artist is. Thinking through his part about the challenges we face today as a society. And I think that'll be a really monumental. Evening. That was San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer speaking with KPBS arts editor Nina Garin. Midday edition is cohosted by Jade Hindmon Maureen Cavanagh is on vacation. The show is produced by Marisa Cabrera and Brooke Rooth art segment producers Beth Accomando and Nina Garin and senior producer Megan Burke executive producer is Natalie Wood. Emily Koski is our technical director and she also arranged the music which is composed by the artist catching flies. Join me and post-box our on the Cape Ubinas roundtable. Coming up right after this break I'm Allison say. John have a great weekend.

January used to be a slow month, a time to take a breath and catch up from the holidays. But now that the San Diego Symphony puts on an annual music festival, January is brimming with concerts, dance performances and art shows.

This year's festival - the fourth annual - is called "Hearing the Future." It explores how artists past and present create work reflective of their time, whether it's Hector Berlioz debuting his epic "Symphonie Fantastique" in 1830 or modern vocalist Davóne Tines putting a spotlight on racial injustice with "Were You There."

Curated by 2018 MacArthur Fellow Matthew Aucoin, the festival features collaborations with other local arts organizations including San Diego Dance Theater, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, The Old Globe, Malashock Dance, Sandbox and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.


Concertgoers will be able to see 90-year-old jazz vocalist Sheila Jordan at the Athenaeum one day, and experience plays by high school playwrights at The Old Globe on another. See a puppet opera about New Zealand's Maori peoples, or experience a modern dance interpretation of recent news headlines. (Find the "Hearing the Future" complete lineup here.)

But of all the upcoming events, the one with the biggest buzz is the debut of Rafael Payare, the symphony's new music director. He will conduct Mozart and Tchaikovsky on Jan. 10, and perform alongside his wife, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, Jan. 11 through 13.

On Midday Edition Friday, San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer explains why Aucoin was picked to curate the festival, and how the festival has evolved into a high-profile arts destination, even reaching the top spot in Conde Nast's "Best Places to Travel in January."